John C. Lettera has been in the real estate industry for over 30 years now. He has fought through numerous trials and tribulations to become a leader in the business even when things were tough when he first began. This led him to become an innovator in the industry.
“I began investing in real estate in 1990, during the nadir of the real estate market. Access to capital was severely restricted, and investors were genuinely panicked. Space in the capital stack was opening up as institutional lenders were sticking with safe loans. I capitalized on the opportunity as a lot of real estate sat below that top tier, falling either into the value-add category or in secondary or tertiary markets, currently off the radar screen of the most risk-averse lenders. I quickly realized that this is a legal intensive industry and decided to attend law school. Fast forward 30 years, and RealFi is now recognized as one of the nation’s leading mortgage companies, employing hundreds of professionals and continuing to grow exponentially,” John recounts.
As he mastered the industry, John took this expertise and moved it into his very own company. He found the real estate world to be exciting but was unable to build an enterprise through it. In addition, he wanted a way to channel his excitement and creativity from the real estate world to something else. That is when he found the solution. He moved his focus to his company, RealFi.
“I have always enjoyed investing in real estate and different businesses. Investing in real estate was great but I wasn’t creating any real enterprise value for myself. The more I learned about investing the more I realized that a successful business is one that can be sold. Sold at a price that includes a return on investment commensurate with the risk involved. This was the motivating factor behind institutionalizing my real estate investments into a real business that can be sold, either privately or to the public, for a large multiple.
I am the founder and CEO of RealFi Financial LLC, a leading, technology-driven, alternative investment management firm with expertise in real estate credit strategies. Through its subsidiaries, RealFi is an originator of qualified and non-qualified residential home mortgages,” John states.
Because of his background in real estate, John was able to use this as a base to propel RealFi to the next level. As he explains, it is the future of the real estate industry that relies on new methods which has allowed them to constantly stay relevant and ahead of the curve.
“RealFi represents the future of real estate lending. While we experienced significant growth, we understand that to stay relevant in a changing market, we need to diversify continually. Our real estate debt business provides creative and comprehensive financing solutions across the capital structure and risk spectrum. We originate loans and invest in debt securities underpinned by high-quality real estate. We manage RealFi REIT, which originates loans collateralized by commercial real estate, and RealFi Home Funding, which originates qualified residential home mortgages. Underwriting guidelines used by most conventional mortgage lenders currently prevent them from participating in such loans. We do not expect such underwriting guidelines to be modified at any time in the foreseeable future. Institutions only slowly re-enter the market at a time when a flood of borrowers needs refinancing and recapitalization. Our objective is to fill that gap on assets with a lowered cost basis, thus allowing us to obtain excellent risk-adjusted returns up and down the capital stack,” John explains.
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